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ISL 5: Delhi end winless run with victory over Chennaiyin

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CHENNAI: Delhi Dynamos FC finally managed to notch up their first victory of the season after beating Chennaiyin FC 3-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. The result ends the Lions’ agonizing 11-match winless run in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19.

The three points lifted Delhi off the bottom place, while Chennaiyin drops down to take up the unsavoury slot in the table.

Josep Gombau brought back goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro into the starting line-up. The Spaniard was the standout player for Delhi in their reverse fixture against Chennaiyin back in October and put in a goalkeeping masterclass to keep the score 0-0. The 33-year-old had a busy start to the match, first keeping out Carlos Salom’s looping header from Anirudh Thapa’s free kick.

He then followed it up with a cracking save to deny Raphael Augusto. The Chennaiyin man’s low free kick on the 13th minute seemed destined for the bottom right corner before Dorronsoro intervened.

The Lions, who showed very little going forward in the first 15 minutes, stunned the home crowd on the 16th minute and took the lead. Nandhakumar Sekar floated in a teasing cross from the left and Delhi striker Daniel Lalhlimpuia conjured up a clever header to beat Karanjit Singh in the Chennaiyin goal. It was Daniel’s first-ever goal in the Hero ISL.

Augusto, by far, looked the most dangerous player on the pitch for the home team and almost engineered an equaliser on the 30th minute. He found Salom with a cross and the Palestinian forward did well to direct his header goalwards. Dorronsoro, however, stood strong yet again and tipped the attempt over the bar.

It seemed Chennaiyin would need something special to beat the Delhi custodian on the night, but they made do with a penalty kick. The referee pointed to the spot after Mohammad Dhot clattered Salom from behind inside the Delhi box. This time, Augusto gave Dorronsoro no chance from the spot kick.

Augusto could have made it 2-1 just before the half-time whistle sounded. The Brazilian had the goal at his mercy after a goalmouth scramble, but skied his effort. The score stood 1-1 at the break.

The second-half was an edgy affair as both teams tried a safety-first approach. Isaac Vanmalsawma came on in place of Francisco Fernandes just before the hour mark to add some pace in the Chennaiyin attack. The substitution almost worked out for the home team immediately when Isaac found himself in space from a quick counter-attack. The youngster should have played in Thoi Singh, who was making a lung-busting run at the far post, but decided to take the shot on himself. The attempt was too close to Dorronsoro to trouble him.

Delhi have been guilty of conceding late goals time and again this season. However, this time, it was the Lions who found the net. Lallianzuala Chhangte broke with pace for Delhi, before playing in Bikramjit Singh with a nifty pass. The former Chennaiyin man slotted home calmly to restore Delhi’s lead on the 78th minute.

The Lions still had a good 12 nervy minutes to see off in order to secure their first win of the season, but the toil was made much more bearable by Nandhakumar and a bit of luck. The Delhi winger’s shot from outside the box took a wicked deflection off Mailson Alves and ended up inside the goal on the 82nd minute.

It was enough to decide the match as the visitors registered their first win of the season, much to head coach Josep Gombau’s relief.

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